We have examined the health benefits of various berries on this site, from very common blueberries to far lesser known berries like beautyberry. When it comes to edible berries, there is little doubt that they are good for you. The main reason is that berries are extremely high in antioxidants and consistently score very high on the ORAC scale.
Today, we are looking at a variety of berry that has recently become more popular with the increasingly health-conscious public. Chokeberries, also known as Aronia berries, are very good for you. In fact, they are believed to be among the best sources of antioxidants in the world.
To find out more about the benefits of chokeberries and how to incorporate them into your diet, please read on.
What are Chokeberries?
Chokeberries or aronia berries, known scientifically as Aronia melanocarpa are small, dark-colored berries. Native to North America, these fruits can now be found growing in many other regions of the world and are especially common across much of Europe. The shrubs on which the berries grow belong to the Rosaceae family.
These small berries have long been used for health purposes and were traditionally used by the Native Americans as a natural remedy for the common cold and related symptoms.
Chokeberries are certainly edible but because of their mouth drying effects, they are not usually eaten fresh or raw. However, they make a wonderful ingredient for jam, jelly, purée and syrup. they can also be consumed in the form of tea, wine or juice.
These days, they are readily available in many different forms including frozen, dried, powdered and fresh.
Like all berries, chokeberries contain very few calories but manage to pack a big nutritional punch. They are rich in various minerals and vitamins and also relatively high in dietary fiber.
A one ounce serving (28 grams) of chokeberries provides us with the following nutrition.
- 13 calories
- 2 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat
- 12 grams of carbohydrates
- 2 grams of fiber
- Vitamin C – 10% of recommended daily value
- Manganese – 9 % of RDV
- Vitamin K – 5% of RDV
These berries also contain smaller amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, iron and folate.
They are also a great source of healthy antioxidants which are known to have a number of health benefits. They are especially rich in anthocyanins, from which they get their dark color.
The Health Benefits of Chokeberries
Being so high in antioxidants and other important nutrients, chokeberries have a number of potential health benefits. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that these berries can help protect against a variety of serious illnesses and may even have anti-cancer potential.
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Effects
Most berries are very high in antioxidants and according to studies, aronia berries are no exception. Researchers have consistently found that these berries are packed with antioxidants that can protect against the damaging effects of free radicals or oxidative stress.
They are high in phenolic acids and anthocyanins, which researchers have found to be effective against free radicals. (1) In fact, one recent study found that aronia berries had even greater free radical scavenging activity than blueberries. (2)
The antioxidants compounds found in chokeberries can have a significant effect on your health. they defend the cells from the damage done by environmental free radicals that we encounter on a daily basis. When free radicals build up in the body, they lead to the oxidative stress.
This is linked to a range of chronic conditions including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, metabolic disorders and Alzheimer’s. (3)
Chokeberries are especially high in polyphenols including anthocyanins, phenolic acids and flavonols. Studies done in the laboratory seem to indicate that these antioxidants can protect us from illness by inhibiting the activity of free radicals. (1) (2)
Comparative studies have found that chokeberries contained a higher level of antioxidants than various other berries including gooseberry and elderberry. (4)
While most of these studies have been conducted in the laboratory, there is evidence that the antioxidants found in chokeberies are very beneficial to human health. One study, published in 2014, revealed that chokeberry extract helped to significantly reduce oxidative stress that was caused by a type of antipsychotic medication. (5)
A number of other laboratory studies have linked the antioxidants found in aronia berries to a range of other health benefits including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities. (6) (7) (8)
There is some evidence that the antioxidants found in chokeberries make the fruit good for the heart. (9) According to research, chokeberries can improve your heart’s health in a number of possible ways. They may help reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing several factors including cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Several studies have been done to analyze the effects of chokeberry extract on patients with metabolic syndrome. One study, involving 47 adults, treated the patients with chokeberry extract for 2 months. The treatment resulted in significant reductions in blood pressure. (9)
Another study involving 38 adults with metabolic syndrome also found that supplementing with chokeberry extract was beneficial. The researchers found that 300 mg of chokeberry extract a day for two months led to a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (10)
May Have Anti-Cancer Effects
Cancer is among the world’s biggest killers and the search for a cure or an effective prevention is ongoing. In this search, researchers have increasingly turned to nature for a potential answer.
Studies are at an early stage but there is some evidence that the antioxidants found in aronia berries may have a protective effect against the disease. (11)
Several in-vitro studies as well as animal studies indicate that the antioxidant anthocyanins found in chokeberries may be effective against colon cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. (12) (13)
One laboratory study found that chokeberry extract was effective against colon cancer cells. A 50 mg extract reduced the growth of the cancer cells by 60% within 24 hours. Researchers believe that the anthocyanins found in chokeberries are the main compound responsible for inhibiting cancer cells. (14)
Similar results have been observed when chokeberry extract was tested against other forms of cancer including breast cancer. One study found that chokeberry extract significantly reduced the amount of superoxide radicals in women suffering from breast cancer. (15)
While the results to date have been very positive, more research is needed in the future to determine just how effective aronia berries may be against cancer.
Immune System and Antibacterial Properties
Chokeberries might also help boost the immune system which can help fend off sickness and improve recovery time.
One laboratory study found that chokeberry extract had powerful antibacterial activities against two harmful strains of bacteria – E. coli and Bacilus Cereus. According to the researchers, the extract was effective because it inhibited the bacteria’s ability to produce protective biofilm. (16)
There is also some evidence that chokeberries have anti-inflammatory properties. According to studies, chokeberry extract inhibits the release of certain pro-inflammatory compounds like interleukin and TNF-ɑ. By reducing inflammation, immune health may also be improved. (17)
Urinary Tract Infections
We have already mentioned that researchers have observed the antibacterial actions of chokeberry extract in the laboratory. There is also evidence that the fruit might be effective in humans for treating certain infections.
One study, published in 2014 found that chokeberry juice was an effective natural remedy for urinary tract infection. The researchers found that the elderly patients who drank chokeberry juice daily had experienced significant improvements.
Over a three month period, patients who consumed 5.3 ounces or 3 ounces a day experienced 55% and 38% reductions in the incidence of infection respectively. (18)
Chokeberries have traditionally been used as a remedy for the common cold and similar illnesses. This use has some support from animal research.
One study found that certain compounds in chokeberry could protect against the flu virus. The researchers concluded that myricetin and ellagic acid found in chokeberry had potential as novel future treatments for influenza. (19)
How to Use Chokeberries
Chokeberries are not as widely available as more common berries but they are easy enough to find online and a number of health food stores also stock them.
They are available in fresh or frozen form and can also be found in supplementary forms. chokeberries are also a popular ingredient in jam, jelly, syrup, tea and wine.
These are some of the ways you can add chokeberries into your diet.
- Raw fresh berries : They are edible in fresh form but many people are put off by their mouth drying effect.
- Jam, jelly and Desserts : You can make some delicious jams or jellies with chokeberries or use them as an ingredient in your favorite dessert dish.
- Baking : Use your chokeberries as an ingredient in your home made cakes, muffins or pies.
- Juice or Smoothies : You can combine chokeberries with other fruit and veg to make a healthy beverage. Experiment and have fun – try mixing them with strawberries, mango or pineapples.
- Tea and Wine : Aronia berries are sometimes found as an ingredient in mixed fruit tea or wine drinks.
- Supplements : Chokeberries are readily available in various supplementary forms including capsule and powder. Make sure you buy any supplements from a reputable supplier and follow the dosage instructions carefully.
- While chokeberries are regarded as safe, it is a good idea to consult your doctor before taking them as a supplement.
- Capsules and powders can vary in strength depending on whether they are made from extract or freeze-dried fruit.
- Because supplements are not strictly regulated, there are few guidelines regarding a recommended dose. Several clinical trials have used 300 mg of chokeberry extract daily without any reported adverse side effects.
- Make sure that you speak to your doctor before taking chokeberry in supplementary form. This will ensure that the supplement is correct for your needs and your doctor can also recommend a safe dose.
- Chokeberries or Aronia berries are a small, edible fruit with a big nutritional punch.
- These berries are especially high in antioxidants that can help protect us from the harmful effects of free radicals.
- Chokeberries are also a good source of minerals and vitamins especially vitamin C.
- Research has found that the antioxidants in chokeberies are responsible for a variety of human health benefits. These include heart health, anti-inflammatory and potentially ant-cancer benefits.
- You can enjoy chokeberries in a variety of different forms including fresh or as an ingredient in sauce, jams and jelly. They also make for a tasty and healthy addition to your juice and smoothie recipes.
- Chokeberry supplements are also available. Make sure you consult your doctor before using them in supplementary form.
Have you ever used chokeberries? Let us know how you used them and what you think of them. Would you recommend chokeberries and do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share?
Please let us know in the comments below. we would be delighted to hear from you.
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